Filipino animated film “Dayo”, Highly Recommended

My Nieces Pose Behind Dayo Background
Patricia and Emae Pose Behind Dayo Background

Guys, you’ve got to see this one-of-a-kind Filipino animated movie! My family, including my Dad, watched this film on its first day of showing at SM Marikina City. Although there were not much people lining outside and quite fewer seating inside, still it was a great movie to watch. My kids loved it. They even hum… no, sang the movie’s theme song on their way out. It has a catchy tune and was remarkably rendered by international star Lea Salonga, who also sang Walt Disney’s Alladin theme song. “Lipad, lipad, kaya mong lumipad!!!” says it all.

The story of “Dayo” is quite simple. An 11-year-old boy, Bubuy (voiced by Nash Aguas), must travel to the fantasy world of Elementalia to rescue his grandparents (Noel Trinidad and Nova Villa) who have been abducted by mythical creatures. He is helped in his mission by Anna, a friendly vegetarian manananggal (Katrina Legaspi). In Elementalia, he will encounter the Yoda-like character, Lolo Nano (Peque Gallaga), a cigar-smoking female kapre (Laurice Guillen), a cool rocker tikbalang (Michael V), and Elementalia’s head guardian (Johnny Delgado). Bubuy became a “Dayo” or an outsider or visitor of Elementalia.

I think the storyline is simple enough that every 6-year old kid can fully grasp it. There is a heavy cause for Bubuy to go to the fantasy world because his grandparents were kidnapped by the living balete tree. The tree needs to execute his revenge also due to Bubuy’s wrongdoing, that of setting up a fire near its place.

What caught much of our attention was the onslaught of advertisements and product placements embedded within the film. A Philippine Airlines plane was panned while Bubuy and Anna (flying manananggal) was hovering in the air. More ads appeared while they were flying. Bubuy brought his special chocolate candy to Elementalia in order to boost his strength. However, the vitamin syrup was an overkill. Why in heaven’s gate do you need a vitamin to combat the engkantos? I wonder how they are going to splice these ads when they show it internationally?

One part of the film truly made my kids say, wow! It was when Bubuy and Anna entered the Elementalia with all the magical creatures and background elements appearing all over. They felt that that scene was almost as craftily designed as the magical world of Barbie and the Toyland. I too was amazed. Filipino animators have really gone a long way. However, I won’t delve much on the nitty-gritty animation and design. So long as my kids were awed, and they were so hard to please, that’s good enough for me. 🙂

Narsi, the rocker-cum-hiphop-cum-cool dude tikbalang played by Michael V was a real wacky treat! We were laughing every time he is on screen. He always present a punch line that hits us straight. I forgot some of those funny lines but they sure are witty especially the English ones.

Another stunning character was one of Anna’s bodyguard voiced by Pokwang. What made us laugh was when she complained about Meralco (local electric company) not fixing their dangled electric lines while they were chasing Anna and Bubuy. One more character which we find cute and funny was when Bubuy was caught by kapre or giant tree dwellers who always smoke big cigars. When Bubuy was crying, the lady kapre also cried. He asked her why was she crying, she replied, “Kasi umiiyak ka eh! (Because you are crying too!)” When Bubuy started laughing, she too laughed. Again when he asked her why, she replied, “Kasi tumatawa ka eh! (Because you are laughing too!)”

There were hanging stories that are either they deliberately included them or they just forgot to expand them further. One was when Anna saw a photo of a mother holding her baby at the back of Bubuy’s grandparents photo which fell after he got it. When she asked if the lady in the photo was his mother, Bubuy denied it. Another one was the other people trapped in balete‘s lair. I hope Bubuy also helped them escape. I also believe that the balete “villain” is not really that bad. It was only protecting itself. I wish Bubuy did not kill it.

Overall, Dayo is an outstanding film. It focuses more on our unique Filipino culture and folklore. It makes us proud of our heritage. It showcased our rich traditions and beliefs about our local myths like fairies, ghosts and famous engkantos, kapre, tiyanaks and the like.

I encourage you guys to come and watch this movie. “Dayo” is the only animated flick shown this Christmas, took two years to make and tapped 500 local animators from Camarines Sur, Baguio, Dumaguete and Makati. It was color-graded by local firm Optima Digital; the sound was mixed by Technicolor, a UK company with an office in Thailand. “It’s the first Filipino film to use Dolby 7.1,” said Erwin Escubio of Cutting Edge Productions.

Sometime last November, I was invited by Ms. Lina Valdez of Guhit Pinoy Animation Studio, one of the sub-contractors of “Dayo” to visit their place in Libis, Quezon City and see how they operate. The reason why she asked was because she saw the potential of our deaf students to go into animation. She explained that drawing and animating does not require sounds. All they need is to have the skill and interest in designing. I believe so too. This is an exciting field where our deaf can truly excel and showcase their talents. I promised to collaborate with them come 2009.

When Lolo Nano, the Jedi guru said something like, “this will not be the last time they will meet”. Do I smell a sequel? Better yet, can they make a 12-episode TV series out of this? Congratulations to the team Dayo! 🙂

Official Trailer

Check out these other Movie Reviews:

  1. PinoyWorld
  2. Slip Inside the Eye of My Mind
  3. Screensucked (from my colleague/friend Reignard Raquedan)
  4. Official Web Site

6 thoughts on “Filipino animated film “Dayo”, Highly Recommended

Add yours

  1. It’s this kind of stuff that really stimulates our economy by employing Filipinos to bring to life our culture and mythology. What struck me most was that almost all the resources, people and the script was uniquely Filipino, now THAT is how you heal a broken economy, I wish a select few of us here in the US would understand that concept. :\ Bravo guys.

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